Hille, August 1991
“As a young Hille, 3, 4 years old, I was the most confident kid on the block. I had this godlike long curly blond hair, shiny blue boots and the smoothest talk. I took those three quality features everywhere I went. I was constantly out there, on the streets, having my own little adventures. Exploring the world.
Dropping by the neighbors, making small talk and getting some candy. Meeting new people, walking up to kids I didn’t know, introducing myself, becoming friends, making fun, play. Doing errands, buying bread, now imagine a 4 year old getting tobacco for his father in a store! You could say I was born very skilled in the art of speaking and being social. I was born adventurous and afraid of nothing. No preconceived ideas about anything and anyone. I was literally one with the world.”
A young Hille went to the bakery once. Confidently stepping up in his blue boots, ready to order some bread. But suddenly he couldn’t pronounce the word ‘bread’. The man behind him started yelling: “who in the world comes up with the idea to send their stuttering kid to the bakery!?”
It’s those experiences that shaped us.
We started to doubt ourselves. We stopped being the outgoing kids that we used to be. No longer being able to stroll up to our neighbors and visiting them unannounced. We started to question all of our words and actions.
People started to mimic us or look at us in a weird and condescending way. We got teased, bullied and laughed at because of our stutter. Something wasn’t right. Those people made us believe that stuttering is not OK. That it should be avoided at all costs. It made us feel less than other people. Feeling like we were wasting people’s time with our stutter, feeling like we didn’t have anything interesting to say, feeling like we weren’t good enough.
“I was never one of the cool kids. I was known as the quiet one. Never being able to fully express myself. This went on from primary school all the way through high school. This resulted in me having a general lack of lust for life. No motivation. No inspiration. No sense of direction. Not knowing who I was and what the heck I was doing with my life.
I remember our high school graduation ceremony. The teachers had come up with a couple of lines describing each student that graduated. I still remember very vividly what they said about me: “We never really noticed him; he did his own thing, but he graduated, so good for him.”
I’ll never forget those lines. They sum up my high school period perfectly. I was just there, sitting in class, not doing anything, not saying anything, just going with whatever the crowd did. Constant fear, constant anxiety and constant stress. Only worrying about what other people might think of me, what would happen if I stuttered and whether I would get invited to the next party, which I never did.”
Stuart, September 2009
Hille & Stuart, September 2012
Can you see the insecurity and desperation in our eyes in the picture to the left? Stuttering was like a demon that controlled us. Our thoughts, our actions, our everything. And that demon played it well, everything we did was based on and around our stutter. It turned into fear of speaking, deep seated social anxiety and full on insecurity about ourselves. We simply weren’t able to fully express ourselves and thus experienced this withdrawal from life.
Continuously stuck on the same letters, the blocks and the silences. The look on people’s faces when we stuttered. How they treated us differently because of our stutter. There was this constant negative self-talk, sometimes mild, other times strong. But too often it was there. Continuously worrying about speaking and what might happen if we stuttered. It was exhausting.
But it had to stop. We couldn’t live like that any longer. We had been living a life of insecurity long enough. It was time to take action. We became aware of what our stutter was doing to us, what situations triggered our stutter and we tried out multiple ways to get that consistent fluency.
We looked up everything we could find about stuttering on the Internet. We started reading books about the workings of the body and the mind, from clear articulation to the deep psychological concepts. We took everything into account to make sure we attacked our stutter from all possible angles and leave it behind us once and for all.
Stuart & Hille, June 2014
Our first live talk, November 2015
Talk at TEDx Groningen, April 2016
Bit by bit our stutter started to crumble and we became more and more fluent. But leaving behind the frustration of stuttering ourselves, a new frustration had arisen: we realized that there are millions of people all over the world struggling with the same issues that we went through.
And that thought was very scary.
We had a plan: to reach as many people who stutter as we can, all over the world, to help and inspire them to work on their stutter and go through the same transformational experience that we did. Broca Brothers was born. We started making videos, writing blogs and finally setting up our own approach to speech therapy.
Our first live radio interview, April 2016
Our first bootcamp, May 2016
Years and years of studying, reading, trying out, failing and trying again resulted in an all-round approach to stuttering ranging from the physical stuttering behaviors to the deep psychological concepts where it all starts. We’d like to share those new and exciting angles with you, the stuff you need to know but never heard a speech therapist talk about. We want you to see the possibility of being able to become more fluent. We’ve done it and now we’re here to help you do it too. We want to help you take a stand against stuttering and take back control of your speech and life.
Understand what stuttering truly is by watching the video below and be on your way to become a fluent speaker.
Let’s talk soon,